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Friday, October 30, 2009

Hands On: BlackRapid R-strap RS-7 Review

By Mel B.
This strap system was previously reviewed by Brendan (here) who, while giving it an overall positive review, had some reservations based on the mechanism that mounts the strap to the camera. Black Rapid has since revised their mounting system and the RS-7 features the new attachment.

PPE 09 Booth visit video HERE

This strap was used for this new review in two different scenarios: sidelines sport shooting that was largely stationary, with two cameras, the RS-7 being for the second camera, worn under a traditional strap holding the first camera; and while shooting with only one camera but in a situation that required a large of amount of walking and movement.



As in the previous review, I too found that this strap makes for a very comfortable carry and sufficiently distributes the weight of the camera making it easier to bear for long periods of time. The photographer is afforded easy and quick access to camera and there is enough length to work with another camera on a traditional strap without the cameras becoming tangled. The sliding buckle system kept the padded shoulder portion in place through a full day of shooting and moving from one location to another. There is no question that this is a quality product that has been well designed in both the areas of comfort and functionality.

The big change in this strap system from the previous review was the method of attachment to the camera. Like the previous model, it utilizes the tripod mount hole on either the bottom of the camera (or grip) or on the tripod mount ring of your lens. However, the revised model, the FastenR-2, features a rubber washer between stainless steel fastener and the camera, providing sufficient tension to allow it to be tightened down without having to over-tighten to get it to stay in the mount hole. The generously sized D-ring made it very easy to tighten, and then loosen again, but the attachment did not loosen on it's own even slightly, even after a full day of moving around shooting a marathon.
The ConnectR-2, which connects the strap to the fastener, can actually lock down to prevent any accidental detachments there as well. Toward the end of the second day of use I felt sufficiently confident in the attachment to no longer keep one hand on my camera at all times (although often I did to keep it from being bashed by the crowds). However I will qualify my praise of the attachment by stating that my precautionary hand on camera could conceivably have been responsible for the lack of loosening as I was reducing the camera jiggle that would occur while walking. So to somewhat confirm the security of the mount I held my camera by the strap, close to the attaching bracket and jiggled it for a couple minutes (a mere inch above a heavily padded surface. I take reviewing seriously but I'm not stupid!). There was no loosening. Judging from Brendan's experiences with an older model it would appear that this is a vast improvement from the previous design.

Orientation of the camera is a big advantage for the quick grab and shoot. However, shooter beware as this same orientation is somewhat side-dependant. While carrying with the camera at the left hip I found that the camera settings would change with walking motion (in my case the culprit was one of the scroll wheels on my grip hitting my leg/hip -- the ISO would suddenly be set to 6400 when I had last shot at ISO 100. Oops). One must either double check settings or turn camera off while walking, which somewhat counters the speed of shooting gained by the camera orientation. However, the orientation also makes the camera seem more safe from bumping while moving though crowds by not having a lens sticking out in front or to the side, so it's a compromise. I would prefer to not change how I shoot to match a product but in this case the advantage of the method of carrying, in my opinion, outweighs the adjustment. This is a quality product.

BlackRapid Site

By Mel Beus for P3 N&R
Images from BlackRapid

Strap was provided by BlackRapid for review with no request for return. Reviewer has since kept strap and is using it depending on shooting demands/conditions.
Remember P3 provides Honest Reviews no matter what, If it doesn't work, has shoddy craftsmanship etc We will tell you. We do not give good reviews because of advertisers or for the "free" equipment.


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